I don’t know about you, but I’m completely fascinated with BoingBoing’s deletion of nearly 100 posts (and even some comments) that were in any way related to the San Francisco blogger and sex columnist Violet Blue. Silicon Valley gossip site Valleywag first broke the story last Wednesday (with a very speculative/juicy follow up here) which spread like a wildfire across the web.
BoingBoing’s official response, written by BB moderator Teresa Neilsen Hayden on behalf of the BB crew, did little to put out the flame(war)s. It seems that BoingBoing’s strategy is to just hope that everybody will ignore the whole debacle. Even the blog post’s title, “That Violet Blue Thing“, screams to the reader to just move on and forget about the whole thing. Unfortunately, the tone that Teresa has chosen sounds exactly like the type of corporate spindoctor speak that BoingBoing readers are taught to ignore. Instead of saying these posts were deleted for personal reasons that we just don’t want to get into, Teresa decided to focus on using the word “unpublished” and further stating “There’s a big difference between that and censorship.” Teresa also stated “Boing Boing’s past content is indexed on the Wayback Machine, a basic Internet resource; so the material should still be available for those who would like to read it.” In other words, “here is a link to the stuff that we couldn’t delete from the web”.
I’m obviously not the only person who is captivated by BoingBoing’s actions. By the time I post this, That Violet Blue Thing will probably have reached 1,000 comments. I was strangely captivated as I watched the posts accumulate yesterday, especially when they surpased BoingBoing’s second and first most commented blog posts. At this rate, ” “That Violet Blue thing” will probably have more comments by the end of the week than ALL the other BoingBoing comments totalled!
So, why is this thing pulling out such emotion from all across the internets? Probably because BoingBoing is seen by many as the great bastion against censorship, so the “unpublishing” of any posts pertaining to Violet can obviously by interpreted as hypocrisy by many of us who have bought into that philosophy. While I’m sure, BoingBoing had it’s reasons, there is a lot of good perspective in the comments (mixed in between a bunch of douchery [from both sides]). Check out this comment from Joel Johnson in which it sounds like he’s not totally inline with the official stance.
Personally, I don’t think there could have been a worst time for BoingBoing drama. At a time when half of BB’s posts seem to be reposts of MakeZine links (which are often just reposted from CraftZine) and the other half are plugs for Cory Doctrow’s books, it sometimes feels as though BB is fast becoming “a directory of wonderful things… that we can sell you”.
The irony of all this, as Tom Phillips from Flashboy.org points out, is that if Teresa Nielsen Hayden had been able to FOLLOW HER OWN ADVICE regarding straight talk and pr, this whole kerfuffle would probably have been nothing more than a flash in the pan.
Hell, BoingBoing is still a wonderful directory of the internets, and I doubt in the grand scheme of things this issue will hurt their traffic. I’m sure that both sides are benefiting from the extra site hits they’ll see throughout the week. Although I’ve be bored silly with Monochrom videos, daily Cory Doctrow readings, reposts from other O’Reilly blogs, and Russel Porter interviews, the site’s rss feed is in no danger from being unpublished from my news aggregator anytime soon.